THE Cagayan de Oro City Government is upgrading its emergency services as it launched on Monday, October 30, the 911 Emergency Call which targets an eight-minute emergency response time.
Starting on Monday, dialing the 911 number will immediately link you to an emergency dispatch center called the Oro Computer Aided-Emergency Response Center (OCA-ERC), which can send emergency responders to the caller's location.
Mario Verner Monsanto, overseer of the City Risk Reduction and Management Department (CDRRMD), said the response center operates on a 24-hour basis to answer distress calls.
"When someone calls us, we immediately ask 4 questions to the caller, what is their emergency, then where the emergency took place, who is calling, and we shall also ask their callback number," Monsanto said.
"You see, our personnel are not trained of telephone etiquette, you will not expect them to greet you or anything, they will immediately ask these questions, because time is of the essence, what we are aiming is really to save lives," he added.
But here's the catch, as of this moment, it is still not free, and only Globe users will be linked to the localized 911 emergency response center.
Monsanto said the city government is still working on making it toll-free, and are still inviting other telecommunication providers to engage with the project.
Ennar Jussef Licayan, Senior Manager of Globe's Key Industries Public Sector, said a caller should have a maintaining of at least P12 for a 2-minute call to a 911 dispatcher.
"Paningkamotan nato na toll-free siya, we will still arrange with our telcos," Monsanto said.
Director Egdar Allan Tabell, chief-DILG-Central Disaster Information Coordinating Center challenged the city government to enhance its capabilities to expand the reach of its 911 program, not only in the city, but also throughout the region.
"Dako among kumpyansa sa city government, we also know that the CDRRMD here has the capability to answer to emergencies, however we also acknowledge there is still room for improvement, meaning more permanent trained personnel and improve the emergency equipment," Tabell said.
"Sa atong nakita so far, kulang pa gihapon ang ilang 6 ambulances and 132 personnel beccause the area of the city is quite wide. As a matter of fact sa among statistics sa situations that we need to respond is vehicular accident, which would require ambulance, medical assistance," he said.
Tabell said the 911 emergency call project is "something that we should not tarnish".
"Dapat dili lang taman sa dunay matawagan or dunay mutubag sa tawag, ang importante is response because our objective is to save lives," he added.
City Mayor Oscar Moreno said the launching of the 911 project is part of the city's resiliency program, which he said is vital for development.
Moreno also pointed out the importance of coordination with other local government units and national government agencies, saying that the project requires massive teamwork and collaboration.
He said he hopes that local government units would be encouraged to link up with Cagayan de Oro City in an aim for a faster emergency response.
"This is a milestone and a breakthrough for the city but of course, this is one number that we don't want people to use, but certainly, this number can come in very very handy in situations that require response," he said.
"Certainly, this project would improve livability. But we also hope that Globe and telco providers would also improve their services," Moreno said.
The city patterned its improved emergency response program after Davao City’s Central Communications and Emergency Response Center (Central 911).
According to city officials, Cagayan de Oro City is the second city in the country to use 911 as the number to dial in cases of emergency, the other one being Davao City. One other Mindanao city, Kidapawan City, also launched its own version of the 911 program in 2015.